Education is not a bucket to be filled, but a fire to be lit.                                    -Plutarch

Education and interpretation in the Garden aims to introduce the public to the wonders of California native flora, inspire individuals to take action, and ignite the passion within all of us to care for the natural world. We enable transformative experience through native plants by creating a space of inquiry, exploration, and discovery. Our volunteers are essential in achieving these goals and helping us today to create a better tomorrow.

Interpretive Volunteers

All education volunteers who interact with the public are engaged in interpretation. you do not need to know about native plants to get started! Following our January training, you may begin to shadow and assist with tours, or staff a Discovery Station on a topic in which you are already knowledgeable. Education staff is always happy to help with development of public tours, and Discovery Station topics and exhibitis.

Training requirements for interpretive volunteers varies, but all must complete:

  • Education Volunteer Training - 5 Saturday mornings in January/February
  • General Volunteer Orientation - First Monday of each month

Garden Guide 2-3 hrs/month
Staff a Discovery Station on the topic you are most passionate - birds, botany, bugs, and native plant horticulture are just a few of the options. Share props and curiosities with the public. Once approved by your Docent Mentor, you may also choose to lead public and school tours. For adults & teens.

Docent 4+ hrs/month
Share your passion for nature by leading public, private, and school tours of the Garden's living collections for visitors, school groups, and other organizations. Prior knowledge of native plants is not required; come learn with us! 

Education Department Support 

Survey Assistant 6 hrs/month
Audience research is essential to creating relevant and exciting educational programs and interpretive experiences for Garden guests. Help conduct evaluations to fully understand the visitor experience. Time commitment varies depending on project need. Ideal for university and graduate students.

Instructional Aide 3+ hrs/month
Take classes for free or reduced rates by setting up and cleaning up. Help instructors during the class by passing out handouts and other materials. Times and days vary depending on class calendar - IAs sign up for classes on a quarterly basis.

General Support 1-3 hrs/week
Data entry, laminating documents, cleaning, and general maintenance of classrooms. Great for someone who prefers to be 'behind-the-scenes'.

Outreach & Special Events 2-4 hrs/month
Learn and play at weekend outreach events (Farmer's Market, Earth Day, etc.) by tabling and talking with a larger audience off-site. Help share the Garden's mission and recruit volunteers for education. For adults & teens.

Check out our Citizen Science pages to explore ongoing projects that need your help!

Looking for other teen opportunities? Join our X-Stream Science Team!

Contact Michelle Gee, the Garden's Education Assistant for more information on all our Education Team Volunteer opportunities.


The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden conserves California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
Our Tax ID number is 95-1644628.